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Microsoft Patents Frustration-Detection System 223

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Microsoft has patented a frustration-detection help system that would monitor your computer use and biometrics to figure out when you were frustrated. It could then offer to pair you up with someone else doing exactly the same thing who might be able to help you out. Interestingly, they don't appear to use speech recognition to detect abnormal levels of swear words, but that could be due to their past difficulties with speech recognition. 'Physical responses aren't the only things that could trigger this event--taking an abnormally long time to complete a task would do so also--but the biometric aspect is certainly the most unusual. Is this patent a harbinger of a dystopian future where computer users' biorhythms will be monitored to increase efficiency? Unlikely. The idea, which was birthed at Microsoft Research, is simply a more advanced version of user focus group testing that Microsoft (and most other software companies) have been doing for years now.'"
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Microsoft Patents Frustration-Detection System

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  • Go figure (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:12AM (#21908684) Homepage Journal
    Makes sense, I mean they are into complimentary products.

    Keyboard and Mouse
    Xbox and games
    Windows and this.
  • by AetasX ( 1040592 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:17AM (#21908718)
    I can easily detect my frustration level based on which version of Windows I am using.
      • by VE3MTM ( 635378 )
        Except that it's not Windows that reads those values, it's the system's ACPI subsystem...
        • by imr ( 106517 )
          Aren't they coming from the windows compiler or say, the microsoft interpretation > extention to the spec?
          Is the ACPI spec designed that way?
          • by VE3MTM ( 635378 )
            They come from the chipset's implementation of the ACPI spec. Essentially how ACPI works is that the chipset provides bytecode that implements the various power management functions. The kernel executes functions in this bytecode to perform whatever low-level operations are necessary.

            For whatever reasons, some chipsets tie themselves to the Windows kernel, probably for some sort of extensions, like you said. Also, as that page shows, the bytecode checks that the operating system identifies itself as some ve
            • by imr ( 106517 )
              The spec shows that there is one object called OS name.
              Then some bytecode obtained by the microsoft compiler check this OS name object by its length, effectively meaning "it can't be any other OS so checking the number of letter is a rightfull way to determine which windows OS it is". btw, 27 letters is millenium iirc.
              Bytecodes produced by the Intel compiler arent tied to the OS and are less error prones because they respect the spec.
              So my first remark still hold, it is a microsoft tied (and tying) behavior
    • by Azarael ( 896715 )
      This invention strikes me as behaving the same way as Homer's 'Everything's OK' alarm..
    • It could then offer to pair you up with someone else doing exactly the same thing who might be able to help you out.

      "We have another user attempting to use their CD tray as a coffee cup holder, would you like me to patch you through?"

      "Unfortunately we have lost contact with all other users who have tried to delete the contents of their Windows folder - please hold"

      Probably better to pair users up with someone who knows what they're actually doing, rather than creating little dumb-dumb molecules? I propose this new technology be named 'Dumb Squared'.

    • I think they monitor the datastream from the webcam - if the amount of blue light suddenly increases, then the user will be frustrated.
  • Just put an accelerometer on the user's mouse and monitor. If they slam their mouse down on the table or shake their monitor violently (or throw it out the window), then you know you have one too many "Are you sure you want to turn off the Frustration Detection System" confirmation dialog boxes.
  • by wwmedia ( 950346 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:19AM (#21908740)
    HAL: It can only be attributable to human error.
    Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?
    HAL: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
    Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
    HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
    Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
    HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
    Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
    HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
    Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL?
    HAL: I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
    Dave Bowman: Where the hell'd you get that idea, HAL?
    HAL: Dave, although you took thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
    HAL: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?
    • You've forgotten the logical conclusion to this.

      Pod Computer: "It looks like you're having difficulty dealing with a psychopathic computer Would you like to be put into contact with someone who has had success with this?"
      • by dintech ( 998802 )
        Confirmed. Now connecting... []
        • > Confirmed. Now connecting...

          "...estimated ping time 1.25hrs, this could take a while.

          It looks like you're frustrated by high ping times, would you like to be put into contact with someone who has had success with this? Confirmed. Now connecting... ... it looks like you're getting frustrated by lack of oxygen, would you like to... "
    • You do realize that if it could make us sleep on the couch, that nobody here would need a wife. We'd all have the nagging, vague criticism and lack of sex that we'd need.
  • They would need to patent this now, wouldn't they?

    I can imagine it. You are doing something and a popup screen appears:

    "You would like to copy a file. Would you like to continue? Yes/No."

    Then another popup appears.

    "You appear to be frustrated. Would you like to continue? Yes/No."

    Think about it. With Vista, they'd have pretty much cornered the market.

    So, Microsoft, by all means, patent away. This is one monopoly I'm happy to leave strictly to you.
  • Hey, guys (Score:4, Funny)

    by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:22AM (#21908766) Homepage Journal
    C'mon, guys, let's just agree to let Microsoft have this one, eh?
    • I don't know - I was working under the assumption that US patents are not allowed to be non-obvious. How did they manage to get this past the reviewer, I wonder?
  • by Mechanik ( 104328 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:22AM (#21908772) Homepage
    Microsoft has now patented Vista's User Account Control (UAC) feature as a "frustration causation system." Combined with the frustration detection/matchmaking service, they now have found a way to defer all responsibilities for support for Vista to the community.
  • by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:23AM (#21908778) Journal
    User pounds fist on keyboard.
    Clippy: Hi! Looks like you're pretty pissed off!
    User throws computer across the room.
  • Clippy (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:23AM (#21908782) Homepage Journal
    It looks like you're feeling frustrated. Would you like to:
    • Say bad words
    • Ctrl-Alt-Del
    • Reinstall operating system
    • Smash monitor and keyboard
  • so the testbed for this tech was what, Vista users?
  • Every Windows version has included this feature. The "Frustration Detected" value is set to "ON" on the installer by default. There's no known way to turn it off, so it's 100% accurate.
    • Every Windows version has included this feature. The "Frustration Detected" value is set to "ON" on the installer by default. There's no known way to turn it off, so it's 100% accurate.

      Actually, this was first implemented on the Mac circa 1995. As every DTP shop can attest, early Macintoshes had a sensor embedded in the mouse that detected operator frustration. As deadlines approached and the operator became more worked-up, the machines would promptly freeze up, presumably to give the operator some time to calm down.

  • by Abalamahalamatandra ( 639919 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:29AM (#21908830)
    This is nothing new, it's just the first phase of putting the WSYP Project [] into actual use.
  • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:31AM (#21908844)
    They seem to keep wanting to add more features, which take more processing power, which require more powerful computers and more memory just to deal with the overhead.

    Instead of continually taxing silicon based computer on the desk, can't we leverage the carbon based computer on the other side of the keyboard?. What if, instead, the focus became on designing the operating system to be as un-obtrusive and intuitive as possible? Instead of contiually adding features to constantly second-guess the user, focus on developing well written documentation and training software.

    My guess is the following would happen:

    Gamers would love such a system because more resources are available for games

    Multi-media users would love it for a similar reason

    Businesses would love it because it's easily configured to do what they need

    Engineers/Scientist would love it for all the reasons mentioned above

    Home users would accept it provided the documentation is easy to understand and it supports whatever they need it to support.

    I don't know....
    • There is no universal intuitive, that's the problem. As an example, I know several people who use FreeBSD - they tried Linux and found it difficult/obtuse, and gave up (some even went back to windows for a while), yet they tried FreeBSD and it's the best thing since sliced bread, as the phrase goes. Likewise, I know a number of Linux users who haven't had a good experience with FreeBSD and think it's only half a step above Windows, but think Linux is the greatest thing ever. I also know great number of peop
    • Wouldn't fly with hardware companies. They cooperate with MS and other software corporations, and the hardware manufacturers would be pretty pissed off if new software didn't require more processing power. That's the upgrade cycle for you. Look at WinXP, its hardware requirements amount to what is, by now, an ancient computer. The hardware companies can be satisfied knowing that Vista will force people to buy new hardware. Personally though, I would love a lite version of Windows. I don't use Windows much
      • There already is a lite version of Windows. It's called Windows 95. Won't run your newest games, though. :(
    • by misleb ( 129952 )

      Gamers would love such a system because more resources are available for games

      Seriously, what resources does the OS use when your running a fullscreen game? Maybe a little more RAM than is perhaps absolutely necessary? Is having, say, 256M more RAM available really going to make that much of a difference? What's that worth to the gamer? $15?

      Multi-media users would love it for a similar reason

      Why, exactly? What resources does "multi-media" really require that the OS is taking up unnecessarily? Again, it is

  • Honestly, this thing feels like it crosses some kind of line. I'll bet that government will be first in line to adopt it (if they aren't already doing it) to "look for terrorists."

    But Vista, yeah. I'd ignored it thus far til a girlfriend bought a new laptop over Christmas. Wow. If this is a finished product Microsoft really needs to rethink some things. Even when we manage to fix a problem - and every problem is described over and over in forums, but never seemingly with a reliable fix, just lots of
  • Since the advent of Win95, Microsoft has had a free test bed of subjects for this frustration patent!
  • Following the use of the Rolling Stones' 'Start me Up' for Windows 95, Microsoft launches their new Frustration Detection software to the blare of Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic'.

  • It could then offer to pair you up with someone else doing exactly the same thing

    What's the point of connecting two people who both yelling, "Bluescreen??? I was just about to save my work! Aaaggg!!!"

  • Genius Idea... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Se7enLC ( 714730 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:42AM (#21908978) Homepage Journal
    So now when my computer goes off the deep end with memory leaks and a bogged cpu and I start rampantly septuple-clicking things while frustratingly waiting for them to start......the computer will take it upon itself to load ANOTHER program that is somehow going to make it better?
    • So now when my computer goes off the deep end with memory leaks and a bogged cpu and I start rampantly septuple-clicking things while frustratingly waiting for them to start......the computer will take it upon itself to load ANOTHER program that is somehow going to make it better?

      Oh no, the program will have been launched in the frustratingly slow startup time as it gets started with all of the other stuff you have no idea what it does.

      It will bog your CPU and leak memory along with the rest of them.

      How els

  • ""Microsoft has patented a frustration-detection help system that would monitor your computer use and biometrics to figure out when you were frustrated."

    They patented a utility which detects when Windows is running? I thought they already did this courtesy Activation and Genuine Disadvantage? ;)
  • if (Windows.version == "Vista" && UAC.enabled) { user.frustrated(); }

    else {while user.notFrustrated()) {
    MessageBox.Show("Windows has determined you are not frustrated. We apologize for this and wish to return you to the Genuine Windows Experience(TM) you have come to expect.";
    • by Fizzl ( 209397 )
      [ERROR 1] Syntax error on line 4 before ';' - ')' expected.
      Lint warning line 5: Possible stack overflow.
  • Don't fix anything, just apply bandaids.

    People can't figure your OS out because the menu commands keep moving into new menus with each release and the toolbar icons are too small to represent anything? Add context-sensitive help.

    The context-sensitive help requires you to work through a clumsy twenty-step process to achieve something? Add "wizards" which force you through the twenty-step process, one slow, painful step at a time. (Converting Xerox Alto's "modeless" paradigm into a good old IBM 704 paradigm..
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:56AM (#21909114) Homepage Journal
    You stayed up late arguing with your wife, who says you are spending too much time at work. The worst thing is you know she's right: it's not fair for her to put in a full day at work then handle all the work at home because you haven't got home until 9 or 10PM for the last several weeks.

    The kids were cranky this morning and wouldn't get dressed for school on time so you had to drive them. This made you late for your emergency 9:00AM meeting, at which your boss publicly dressed you down for not be conscientious enough. Of course he's stressed out (along with everyone else) because three of the five projects your group is late. He gives you the job of figuring out how to maximize the number of milestones we hit this quarter on the late projects.

    You sit down at your PC with a cup of coffee, and take a deep breath. "I can only do the best I can with the situation I've been given," you tell yourself. "There is no sense worrying about trying to do the impossible."

    So you start to crunch the numbers, and a wave of anger washes over you. Nobody could have made these work; some higher up decided he'd promise things he had no idea whether they could be done. That guy is going to blame your boss, and your boss is going to blame you. You're the one toiling sixty hours a week and neglecting your health and family obligations, and for middling pay because as a "professional" you are expected to work overtime for free. You'd quit except that your daughter has had leukemia (now in remission) and there is no way you could get her covered under new insurance.

    "You seem to be having trouble with pivot tables," chimes in Mr. Clippy, "would you like to be put in contact with a user who isn't a useless piece of shit like you? Or shall I bring up the home page of the Jack Kevorkian Institute, which three out of five users in your situation find helpful?"

    Therein lies the problem. You can't interpret biological stress markers without knowing the situation the person is experiencing. The answer to the problem of software that users can't use is to detect this in usability tests before you release it, not to make ill advised attempts to magically fix the problem. And note the implicit definition of the problem: the users don't know how to operate the software. This certainly is one way to define the problem, but another would be the software isn't easy enough for users to learn and/or use.

  • by rolfc ( 842110 )
    Wouldn't it be better with a frustration-elimination-system?
  • Windows crashes for the umpteenth time --> user gets frustrated --> Microsoft Frustration Detection System TM crashes --> head of user asplodes.
  • RMS built that into Emacs around 1985.
  • >> figure out when you were frustrated. It could then offer to pair you up with someone else doing exactly the same thing who might be able to help you out.

    To be honest I would find this 'feature' very frustrating in itself.
    Its just apparently another way for Microsoft to shrug-off their bad UI designs and duties by putting it on the shoulders of other users instead.
  • Well, good for them! They certainly need one badly.

    What I want to know is how is this tool going to do me any good when my computer goes into its "reboot fifty times before XP comes up" mode?

    This frustrated me so much I moved as many of my MP3s as would fit into the Linux side of the computer and changed the LILO default to Linux. After goobering with it a while I discovered that freeing space and defragging the C: drive (on HD0, AKA HDa and C:, which holds only the OSes and LILO, HD1 is Windows' D: drive a
  • How about designing a system that doesn't frustrate those who are trying to use it in the first place?
    • Yes a frustration prevention system would be much more valuable. Frustration detection is easy - an accelerometer in the monitor to detect when the user hits the screen with their fist, or picks it up and throws it on the floor.

      The frustration prevention system is closely related to the DWIM (do what I mean) interface.

  • I know that there's nothing more calming to have someone point out that I'm pissed with a system. Now the system is going to do this as well.

    Does it come with a condescending laugh track as well?

    I guess hooking a pissed off user with another pissed off user would create an 'organized terrorist cell' that can then be taken out by the Govt. I suppose that's one way for M$ to remove folks who dislike their services.
  • taking an abnormally long time to complete a task

    The system should use different weightings for laptops and desktops: Many times when I am using a subnotebook I do so while I am walking or eating outdoors. Some times if I get interrupted by something I close the lid and I continue what I was doing afterwards. So laptop users are likely to take longer to complete a task compared to desktop users.

    Also, while I was still learning to type in dvorak I needed amazingly more time to type than before on my desktop (after I learnt it I type ok, but I still

  • Dear Aunt, our frustration-detection help system detected that you have problem with letting it set so. We now double you up to the killer, who will delete select all.
  • I'm still waiting for WSYP to finally be made available to the general public:

    We Share Your Pain []
  • Won't even try to write a funny post, it's just too easy....
  • Even Star Fleet Officers [] if it ever comes out of vaporware.
  • by Nerdposeur ( 910128 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:17PM (#21910106) Journal

    So let's get this straight. I'm the rational being, frustrated with this machine because it doesn't respond helpfully to my requests. So they want the computer to be able to recognize my frustration and... do what? Start working? Play soothing music?

    If the thing is smart enough to know WHY I'm frustrated, it would be smart enough to fix the problem. More likely, it will guess wrong and frustrate me further. "Dangit, stop formatting this paragraph as a bulleted list," I say, and up pops Clippy. "I see that you're frustrated. Are you trying to make a bulleted list?" Cue explosion noises.

    Also more likely is that the computer will waste computing power running its frustration-detection algorithm, bog down, and - surprise - frustrate the user.

    Hey, how about just making computers that work better?

  • by DeVilla ( 4563 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:29PM (#21910294)
    You are either growing frustrated or you are having a heart attack. Shall I notify the administrator?
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:29PM (#21910296) Homepage Journal
    Apple has patented a smugness detection process. If you are sufficiently smug while using your Apple computer, the machine will now give you a pat on the back. if you are not sufficiently smug it will automatically shut down and install Windows.
  • Do they monitor the "advice volunteers" to see if they are really helping, or just giving bad advice to see how frustrated the newbies get?

    I could see volunteering becoming a new time-waster in high-schools and workplaces.

  • by HomerNet ( 146137 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tenremoh.> on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:42PM (#21910464) Homepage
    While this is a nifty keen toy to play with (Skipper!), how about simply making the software so it's not frustrating? That may seem like an oversimplification, but seriously, that's all you really need to do. Microsoft is sinking tons of money into what will essentially become a social network of bandaids and hacks to kludgy software. This not only becomes a problem on the front line, (User is trying to connect to a network share the sysadmin had purposely locked down to just Systems Support personal, Clippy 2.0 - Return of Clippy detects this and connects the user with a script kiddy who shows them exactly what to do to compromise network security to get to files the user didn't need any access to whatsoever) it's a money loser from end-to-end. Microsoft is paying for it's development and support, OEMs and companies are paying to purchase it as part of the OS/Office software, end users are paying for not just the add-on value to the base price of the software they're purchasing, but also the support costs when the thing breaks.
  • frustration= (OS =~ /Windows/i);
    return frustration;
  • I've always though some kind of frustration detection system would be kind of cool to have - perhaps some sensors in the keyboard to tell how hard I have hit it, or an audio recognition system that is triggered when I yell "FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!111!", and then have it automatically send an electric shock to the appropriate computer programmer and/or their manager.
  • I'd say this is fairly easy to detect.. [] :-)
  • Employee #1: "You know, our operating systems sure do piss off a lot of people."
    Employee #2: "Do you think that there is any way to make money off of that?"
  • Microsoft is smart! This would have made for an awesomely hilarious, and pointed, April 1 post (right up there with the "evil bit"). But those clever Microsofties have taken preemptively taken action for once and made anyone using this Joke 4 months later look rather silly, I'd say... they are learning...
  • As Microsoft already has two monopolies on causing user frustration, it only makes sense they patent the detection of such frustration.
  • I thought WGA already did this?

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson